No time to waste in such a beautiful location and since the animals might be awake on these sunny days so should we. 6AM and off we go…headed straight towards the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. On our way through canyon we were treated to a sighting of a very contented bull elk. The North Rim viewpoints were great and you could hear the power of the falls. As we circled around towards the South Rim and Artisan’s Point the boys got their first bear sighting!!! A black bear was meandering through some meadows right next to the road. So we got to watch him eating from the safety of our car and were totally ignored by him as he munched away. There were only two other cars that stopped and then moved on so we had the area to ourselves. He wandered around a bit but we were able to see him clearly for about 20 minutes. We took some little walks around the trails on the South Rim and shared the space with some dear. Those falls truly are Grand.
We had some high expectations for a day in the Hayden Valley and weren’t disappointed. Just as we were driving into that area we spotted a brown bear also not far from the car. He was pretty big and moving around again. We didn’t stay long this time since the road traffic was backing up but still got a good view! Another first for the boys!
And the day was just started. Hayden Valley is a gorgeous, wide open valley that reminded Dave and I of some Alaska adventures. The bison herds were out enjoying the morning and lots of people were stopping to look. One particular vantage point had several individuals out with their powerful spotting scopes. We stopped to see what they were spying on. Wolves! We were just able to make out a large black and medium white wolf out across the valley. The word was they had been seen with more hunting earlier in the day and that these two appeared to have a den in the area we could see.
It’s hard work constantly looking for animals so we took an early lunch break at the Nez Perce ford. Too windy to attempt any fishing so we cruised around a little more seeing a large herd of elk and more rapids sections of the river. We then stopped at the Supher Caldron which was probably William’s least favorite stop of the trip. TOO SMELLY! I still enjoyed the boardwalk and hotpots. The boys were still going strong so we took a short hike out Mary Mountain Trail. No animals since it was a pretty hot afternoon but good to stretch our legs. As we headed back towards camp we stopped in Canyon for some souvenir shopping. Braving the gift shop with three boys was the bravest thing we did all day. Luckily it was another peaceful evening back at Madison campground and the evening fly hatch made for some good fishing. Dave landed a couple of nice cutthroats.
Time to Relax for a day…kind of. But we did sleep in and have a hot breakfast before heading out. We rolled into Noris pretty late, well 9:30. It was already busy but we still enjoyed a walk around the basin and were treated to some fairly continuous activity from Steamboat Geyser. The Pearl basin was full of lots of little bubblers and fun colors. Worth the stop and wearing masks. After lunch at Sheepeater cliffs we saw a fox hunting near Swan Lake. He was watching, listening, and then pouncing away. The afternoon was spent relaxing by the Gibbon river. Dave and the older two fished a little. Then we did some wading and swimming while Dave got more serious and started reeling in the brookies (and some nasty white fish!). Very peaceful and quiet especially after our packed couple of days. Thanks Yellowstone, We had a great time.